MEDIA: Rural hypermedia, CPJ implosion and Kucinich bashing

Posted on March 11, 2012

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WHERE DOES RURAL HYPERMEDIA FIT IN?

Emmett O’Connell of Olympia Time inquired about where the Key Peninsula News fits into the “news ecosystem.” This monthly publication and website serves a relatively isolated rural community north of Tacoma. A part-time staff of eight is augmented by a cadre of volunteers. Content looks to be entirely community service journalism. I wonder how the News would deal with someone submitting an expose about the fire department.

I could see hypermedia outlets like this springing up in rural parts of Thurston County such as Delphi Valley, Steamboat Island and Cooper Point. Such outlets could be more financially viable if they were entirely web based and run by one parent organization. One could also add coverage of neighborhoods in the urban parts of the county, a la Portland’s Neighborhood Notes.

The News is run as a nonprofit service. This can be a financially life-saving structure for marginal outlets. However, as The Senior News has shown, this doesn’t always inspire top-quality, cutting-edge journalism.

CPJ AS COMMUNITY NEWS SOURCE?

O’Connell also noted that he once heard a story that the Cooper Point Journal started out as a neighborhood publication. I haven’t heard that but was told by an old-timer that the reason for the CPJ’s name was a commitment to cover both campus and community news. The underlying goal was to cultivate community-based learning.

If this is true, what happened? Perhaps the insularity of today’s CPJ mainly reflects student attitudes. However, I’ve also sensed some turfiness on the part of Student Activities staff. That seems oddly out of place in such a boundary-challenging college, but such are the paradoxes of Evergreen.

ALL-WEB CPJ IMPLODES

Since we’re talking about the CPJ, its elimination of a printed edition in favor of a web-based platform last fall seems to have been a complete bust, both from an editorial and advertising standpoint. Since early January the CPJ’s “News” section has had only nine decidedly banal postings. The “Opinion” section has had only four postings. “Campus Life” has had only 10 postings. I wonder whether that copy would fill even one print edition of the CPJ.

A Jan. 10 post presents “vows” by CPJ staff for winter quarter. For example, Editor-in-Chief Jo Sahlin says, “I vow to facilitate more hard news coverage of Evergreen, raise awareness of the CPJ website, and recruit more voices for its content.” I wonder what happened?

Meanwhile, the current issue has two small ads. How can they possibly survive with such low revenue?

This implosion should not be a surprise. Such a rapid transition to an all-web platform was a really bad idea. If it is still possible from a financial standpoint, I hope the CPJ will relaunch a print edition on at least a monthly basis. Otherwise they could die. (See further discussion about why the CPJ sucks here and here.)

WHY THE KUCINICH BASHING?

Jeff Greenwald of Salon discusses how gleefully the liberal wing of the national press has given Dennis Kucinich a few kicks since he lost a bid for reelection last week. While the attacks center on Kucinich’s “wackiness,” Greenwald argues that they ultimately serve to marginalize progressive thinking within the Washington, D.C. establishment.

I’ve never been a fan of Kucinich, but Greenwald’s article reminds me of a quip by now-retired Evergreen political science professor Ken Dolbeare. If my memory serves, he suggested that in the United States ideological diversity runs from A to G rather than to Z. The media establishment helps keep it that way.

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